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Residential Landscape Questions & Answers

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How long have you been in business?

Contractors come and go. It’s more common than you think and is done to avoid creditors or past clients; some contractors close one business and then open up again with a similar name.

Some key points about GROUNDS KEEPER and Jay Eriv:

GROUNDS KEEPER was founded in 1973 by Jay.

We have successfully designed and installed over 200 landscape projects in the last 10 Years – Our landscape architect has almost 10 years of experience designing projects for our clients. Plus we have been in business for almost 40 years and have all of that experience to draw from.

Jay and our 3 supervisors have over 100 Years of Experience with GROUNDS KEEPER – This amount of experience and loyalty is very rare in an industry known for the transient nature of the workforce. It may sound old fashioned but we are loyal to our employees and they are loyal to our clients. The amount of experience Jay and our supervisors have with our company simply means you will always have an experienced landscape professional on your project.

All of our support employees have been with us for at least 10 years. All of the dedicated specialty sub-contractors have also been with us for over 10 years.
We will provide you with a list of 25 references for recently completed landscape projects and/or current landscape maintenance clients. We recommend that you ask for at least 10 customer references from every landscape contractor that you seriously consider. Quality companies complete at least 15 projects a year so asking for 10 references shouldn’t be a big deal.

Over 80% of our work comes from referrals and repeat business from our clients and we invite you to review some or all of the 60 testimonials on our website.

It may surprise you to learn that in a 2011 survey by a consulting company that specializes in the landscape industry that 35% of the companies in the survey had failed in the previous 5 years. With almost 40 years of experience we believe you should feel confident that we will be around to back up our warranty.

If you want to create extra outdoor living space with a new patio, gazebo or outdoor kitchen, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your landscaping by adding or replacing walls, walkways, pathways, ponds, pools, landscape lighting or four season plantings , we can make your dream a reality.

How many landscape projects similar to mine have you installed?

This is a very important question to ask.

Unfortunately, due to the economy, many of our competitors have had to lay off their key supervisors and employees and all of the experience they had went with them.

We have been blessed to stay busy and to be able to retain our supervisors and staff.

We have successfully designed and installed over 200 landscape projects in the last 10 years.

  • Our landscape architect has almost 10 years of experience designing projects for our clients. Plus we have been in business for almost 40 years and have all of that experience to draw from.
  • Our 3 supervisors have 73 years of total experience in the landscape industry and 63 of those years are with GROUNDS KEEPER.
  • All of our support employees have been with us for at least 10 years. All of the dedicated specialty sub-contractors have also been with us for over 10 years.

When you hire us you get the benefit of all of this loyalty and experience. This is definitely one of the things that distinguishes our company from our competitors.

If you want to create extra outdoor living space with a new patio, gazebo or outdoor kitchen, or simply improve the layout and functionality of your landscaping by adding or replacing walls, walkways, pathways, ponds, pools, landscape lighting or four season plantings , we can make your dream a reality.

How many local client references will you provide?

  • We will provide you with a list of 25 client references for recently completed landscape projects and/or current landscape maintenance clients.
  • Over 80% of our work comes from referrals and repeat business from our clients and we invite you to review some or all of the 60  testimonials on our website.

We recommend that you ask for at least 10 client references from every landscape contractor that you seriously consider. Quality landscape companies complete at least 15 projects a year. Asking for 10 references shouldn’t be a big issue.

If you are unsure what questions to ask, please visit our references page to see a list of suggested questions.

If checking more than a couple of references seems like a hassle, it is a lot better to do this up front then to end up living through a nightmare landscape project.

Do I really need a formal design?

There are certainly some smaller projects that won’t require a design by our landscape architect and we can show you examples of these projects when you visit our design studio and showroom.

We aren’t looking to make work, we simply want to ensure that you will love your project when we are done.

A short walkway is an example of a smaller project that wouldn’t typically need a formal design but if you want to include plantings and lighting then a design is a much smarter approach.

  • We believe that the reason we have been so successful is that we start your project out right and we don’t leave things for chance.
  • We invite you to visit our design studio so you can see, touch, smell and experience the many beautiful naturalistic landscape features installed on our property.
  • At your initial consultation in our design studio, we will ask questions and listen to gain a full understanding of your ideas and dreams. Once we have a better understanding of your desires, you can review our portfolio of work. We often find that this step allows our clients ideas to come alive with the possibilities and hidden opportunities for their home.
  • If you are comfortable with our ideas, we will schedule a visit to your home. At that meeting we will be able to determine how all of our ideas and your desires will work with your property.
  • This is where it gets exciting for our clients. Based on our review of your property, we will be able to paint a picture of the full potential of your landscape project and to offer options to meet the investment you wish to make.
  • If you are comfortable with the picture then our landscape architect will create a design for your review and approval.

We have successfully designed and installed over 200 landscape projects in the last 10 years and our landscape architect has almost 10 years of experience designing projects for our clients. Plus we have been in business for almost 40 years and have all of that experience to draw from.

How do you price your projects?

Our founder and our 3 supervisors have over 100 years of experience with GROUNDS KEEPER. That is a lot of experience and very rare in the landscape industry.

  • We believe that the reason we have been so successful is that we start your project out right and we don’t leave things for chance.
  • We invite you to visit our design studio so you can see, touch, smell and experience the many beautiful, naturalistic landscape features installed on our property.
  • At your initial consultation in our design studio, we will ask questions and listen to gain a full understanding of your ideas and dreams. Once we have a better understanding of your desires you can review our portfolio of work. We often find that this step allows our clients ideas to come alive with the possibilities and hidden opportunities for their home.
  • If you are comfortable with our ideas, we will schedule a visit to your home. At that meeting we will be able to determine how all of our ideas and your desires will work with your property.
  • This is where it gets exciting for our clients. Based on our review of your property, we will be able to paint a picture of the full potential of your landscape project and to offer options to meet the investment you wish to make.
  • If you are comfortable with the picture then our landscape architect will create a design for your review and approval.
  • We will provide you with a fixed price agreement for the work specified once your final design or layout is approved and the final material selections are made.

We have successfully designed and installed over 200 landscape projects in the last 10 years and our landscape architect has almost 10 years of experience designing projects for our clients.

Where can I see examples of your work?

As a first step, we invite you to visit our design studio so you can see, touch, smell and experience the many beautiful, naturalistic landscape features installed on our property.

Many of our clients came away very excited after visiting our property. The experience was much more rewarding then simply looking at some images in a book or on a computer screen.

We have also sponsored pond tours over the years. The tours allow our clients to show off their homes and naturally they allow all the tour attendees to see and experience our work.

Who will be supervising my project and how long have they been with your company?

This is a great question to ask

Unfortunately, due to the economy, many of our competitors have had to lay off their key supervisors and employees and all of the experience they had went with them.

  • We have been blessed to stay busy and to be able to retain our supervisors and staff.
  • Our 3 supervisors have 73 years of total experience in the landscape industry and 63 of those years are with GROUNDS KEEPER.
  • All of our support employees have been with us for at least 10 years. All of the dedicated specialty sub-contractors have also been with us for over 10 years.

When you hire us, you can feel comfortable that you will have an experienced and professional staff on your project at all levels.

The experience and longevity of our supervisors, staff and key sub-contractors is definitely one of the things that distinguishes our company from our competitors.

What kind of advanced training and certifications do you have?

The landscape trade and the green industry require a unique set of skills.

This is not something that can be learned by reading a magazine article.  The best practices must be taught, practiced and learned by a professional crew before they apply them to your project.

Members of our staff hold professional designations including: Certified Aquasacpe Contractor, Certified CAST Outdoor Lighting Contractor, Certified Rain XChange Professional and more.

In addition, because our supervisors and staff have all been with GROUNDS KEEPER for at least 10 years the amount of on-the-job training each individual has been provided is extensive.

What employee conduct policies do you have in place?

All our employees are trained to act like guests on your property.

This is just common sense.  You’d be surprised that many companies don’t provide basic training in this area.

As a condition of employment, all employees are required to abide by the terms of our conduct policy. In addition, we have a strict written policy that prohibits the use of alcohol and drugs on the job.

Are you properly registered with the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs?

Yes and our registration number is 13VH003754400.

  • The State of New Jersey requires all landscape contractors making property improvements on residential and non-commercial sites to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
  • Property improvements include: walkways, ponds, walls, patios, planting and many other types of landscape projects.
  • We recommend that you ask each landscape company that you seriously consider to provide their NJ registration.
  • Companies that only provide lawn maintenance type services are not required to register but these companies are not permitted to install landscape projects.
  • Unfortunately, some of these companies do offer property improvement type services and this is a clear violation of the law.
  • NJ instituted this registration law to ensure that contractors providing home and property improvement services would meet specified requirements and maintain minimum levels of insurance.
  • Hiring a company that is not registered can expose you to liability claims if someone gets hurt on your project.

When someone contracts without being registered, they endanger the health, safety and welfare of the public, undercut registered contractors who operate legitimately and lawfully, and hurt the entire landscape construction industry.

Are you licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to provide the type of services we need?

Yes and our license number is DEP #93283A.

The State of New Jersey Pesticide Control Program (PCP) is primarily responsible for ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and regulations regarding the use, sale, transport, disposal, manufacture, and storage of pesticides in the state of New Jersey. It also promotes pollution prevention and pesticide use reduction through training and outreach activities involving Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Hiring a company that is not licensed can expose you, your employees and your family to health risks.

This is not a chance you want to take.

What type and level of insurance do you carry?

We maintain $2,000,000 of general liability, commercial vehicle and statutory worker’s compensation insurance.

Some of our competitors use day laborers and these workers are most likely not covered by the company insurance. Unfortunately, this is a very common practice because it is far cheaper to hire someone and pay them cash.

What this really does is put the homeowner at risk if one of the crew members gets hurt because they aren’t covered by the company’s insurance policy.

You can end up with a nasty lawsuit or claim on your homeowner’s policy.

In order to protect your home, it is a smart idea to:

  1. Require that the landscape contractor certify that all crew members are covered by the company’s liability and worker’s compensation policy.
  2. Ask the landscape contractor’s insurance agent to provide proof of insurance directly to you. This prevents the company from providing you with a copy of an insurance policy that is no longer in effect. Insurance is often one of the first things that a company will let lapse when times get tough.

If a landscape contractor is unable to produce the appropriate insurance documents, do not hire them as you may be responsible for any injuries or other accidents that occur during the project.

If the landscape contractor subcontracts any portion of the work, require that the subcontractor certify that all of their crew members are covered by liability and workers compensation insurance.

Have you ever declared bankruptcy or closed a company in the landscaping business that you owned an interest in?

This is an important question to consider especially if your project will be covered by a warranty.

Contractors come and go. It’s more common than you think and is done to avoid creditors or past clients; some contractors close one business and then open up again with a similar name.

In a 2011 survey of the landscaping companies that advertise in local phone directories, over 35% had gone out of business in the previous 5 years.

We recommend that you request the following information from each company that you seriously consider hiring.

  • Provide the name of each corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity that you have owned in part or in full in the last 5 years. All current owners of the landscape company should provide this information.

GROUNDS KEEPER will supply you with all required information about our owner at our first meeting.

What type of warranty or guarantee do you provide?

We warranty the quality and workmanship of our installations. In plain English, if your project fails during the warranty or guarantee period under normal wear and tear, we will repair it at no cost to you. If we need to replace materials that would not be covered under our warranty, the materials are covered by the manufacturer.

We do stand behind our work but we do much more than just provide a warranty or a guarantee. 

  • We have repaired projects after the warranty expired when we believed it was our workmanship issue. It hasn’t happened very often in the almost 40 years we have been in business but we want all of our customers to feel confident that we value our reputation.
  • We started our company with a very specific goal. We want every customer to become a customer for life. We want every customer to know that they have someone that they trust and respect and can turn to for all of their landscape projects.

We believe we are meeting that goal because over 80% of our work comes by referral and from clients who ask us to complete additional landscape projects for them.

Please read what our clients have said about our work and our people. We welcome the opportunity to add you to our reference list of customers who will gladly take a call about the home repair and remodeling services we provide.

Our warrantees and/or guarantees should give you a level of confidence that the crews that are at your home or at your building are professionals.

We provide a one-year warranty on the labor and materials for all projects. We honor all manufacturers’ warranties on materials after the first year..

Unlike most of our competitors, we are certified or rated as master installers for almost all of the products we install so if there are issues after our warranty has expired, we will be providing the needed repairs for the manufacturer.

We have had very few material issues over the years and when they have occurred, we have been able to quickly rectify them as soon as the replacement parts or materials became available.

How will we be able to reach you during our project?

We have full time staff at our design studio and showroom Tuesday through Sunday during normal business hours.

If we are on the phone or with other clients, our goal is to return all unanswered and non-emergency calls by 1 PM for morning calls and by 6 PM for afternoon calls received before 4pm on normal business days.

For all projects our supervisors will meet with you daily if possible but at least every 2 days to update you on the progress of your project. In addition, on the larger projects, Jay will also check in with you periodically throughout the project to make sure the project is on track and all issues are addressed.

As a company, we meet every morning at our shop before going to the job sites to discuss the projects we are working on and address any issues or concerns that may arise.

When you start a job, do you stay until it’s done?

Yes. We are motivated to complete your project because that is the only way we get paid. Once we start your project, we stay on it each day until we are finished unless there are circumstances beyond our control like weather or delays in inspections that don’t permit us to work.

  • In any significant project there will be some “gap” days due to the issues just listed.
  • Our customers know that we are always working on their project – coordinating material deliveries, setting up inspections, coordinating specialty trades and more.

For all projects, our supervisors will meet with you daily if possible but at least every 2 days to update you on the progress of your project.

Our ongoing communications keep you informed so you won’t be left wondering.

How long do you expect this project to take?

There are a number of factors that allow us to give our clients reliable start and completion dates for their projects.

  • We have successfully designed and installed over 200 landscape projects in the last 10 Years – Our landscape architect has almost 10 years of experience designing projects for our clients. Plus we have been in business for almost 40 years and have all of that experience to draw from.
  • Jay and our 3 supervisors have over 100 Years of Experience with GROUNDS KEEPER – This amount of experience and loyalty is very rare in an industry known for the transient nature of the workforce. It may sound old fashioned but we are loyal to our employees and they are loyal to our clients. The amount of experience Jay and our supervisors have with our company simply means you will always have an experienced landscape professional on your project.
  • All of our support employees have been with us for at least 10 years. All of the dedicated specialty sub-contractors have also been with us for over 10 years.

Will I have to give you a big upfront deposit?

We do ask for a deposit for to cover our cost of ordering materials for your project.

  • Some of our competitors will be using your deposit to pay for other jobs.
  • We pay our suppliers on time and that helps us get the best service and pricing.